Openness, Videos, Impressions

The one day Open Video Summit organised by the Centre for Internet & Society, iCommons, Open Video Alliance, and Magic Lantern, to bring together a range of stakeholders to discuss the possibilities, potentials, mechanics and politics of Open Video. Nishant Shah, who participated in the conversations, was invited to summarise the impressions and ideas that ensued in the day.

The notion of free and open is under great debate even under that, and I think even when you side with a camp, there are going to be further splinters. There are many ways of defining the free and open, and I think that the tension, rather than being resolved, needs to be sustained and creatively perpetrated to keep an internal checks and balances on not getting carried away with it. All the groups did indeed circle around this in different, often tangential ways – that there is need to define, variously and almost endlessly, in defining the context of the free that we are dealing with.

Open video, in that matter, has gone through different iterations, and I think it is nice that different stakeholders have defined it variously, and also looked at the problems that it might lead to. However, for the sake of synthesis, I am going to let you have your own idea of free and open but instead look at five key words which have emerged, in my selective hearing, through the day: Access, Archive,  Share, Remix, Repurpose. And it is these five that we need to now imbricate these concepts across different thematic that emerged in the groups today.

Access has been one primary question that almost everybody dealt with; Access has its legacies in the Open and Free culture movements, where technological access, dealing with questions of open standards and content, of bandwidth and infrastructure. More interestingly, in an emerging information society like India, there are other concerns of language, access, privilege, bandwidth, education etc.  To contextualise access and to put it into different perspectives is something that different participants have voiced the need for.

Archive is a preoccupation with most people because archiving has close relationships with knowledge and subsequently retrieval and usage. If knowledge is being digitised so that it is made accessible to different people, there are older questions of representation, voice, empowerment, participation, ethics, privacy, ownership etc. Crop up. In education archiving has to do with the curricula building and knowledge production. In networking, collaboration and film making, it is the kind of issues that is trying to tackle with. It also leads to notions of access, distribution etc.

Sharing is what is almost defining the spirit of the Open and Free culture movements. There is a need to understand and explore what sharing means. When does it infringe laws and what kind of regulation needs to be advocated so that sharing becomes possible. How does one overcome questions of piracy, stealing, IPR etc? More interestingly, what do we share and who do we share it with?  Tools by which sharing leads to innovation? How does it lead to new participation and learning practices and pedagogies? What kind of open distribution models and networks can be built up?

Remix has been of great value because it means that you are being converted into some sort of a stakeholder or a contributor to the process. Networking and nodes, network-actor, collaborator , peer 2 peer – the possibility of looking at questions of internet and digital traces is interesting. Or imagine that the act of sharing is also a remix. Sometimes just putting it into new contexts, making it available to newer constituencies, etc. can also be looked upon as remixing. Remix as a knowledge production aesthetic and mechanics seems to have emerged.

Repurpose is my additional reading of something that perhaps needs no mention to this group, but nonetheless needs flagging. The fact remains, that the technology is not a solution in itself. It is a tool that enables the solutions which one is seeking for. The processes, paradigms, protocols and practices are indeed shaped and mediated by technologies and there are new solution possibilities which are produced. However, there still seem to be anxieties, concerns, questions and problems which are cropping up and need to be addressed outside of technology but within technology ecologies.